Blog Series: Customer Experience
Bob Meyer | October 12, 2022 | 4 min read

How to Make Your Retail Business Omnichannel

While almost everything is available digitally, even the biggest online-shopping fans among us still find themselves regularly in a store. It might be to try on the shoes that stole their attention as they walked past or to see if the ice cream really tastes as good as the reviews say online. Learn from our expert why and how businesses need to make their retail omnichannel.

woman buying clothes via omnichannel options

What Is Omnichannel Marketing?

One of the keys to unlocking growth in your retail business is to allow customers to transition from your website to your store as easily as they can walk from the changeroom to the counter. This is what’s known as an omnichannel marketing strategy. Omnichannel can be easily conflated with the similarly named multichannel marketing. Multichannel refers to running separate sales funnels on different mediums (in-store, website, mobile, app, social), whereas omnichannel is about connecting them all so customers can transition from one to another.

A great example of omnichannel commerce is ‘click-and-collect’, you buy a product online in the morning and drive to the store to pick it up in the afternoon. ‘Click-and-collect’ gives you the best of both worlds. You can shop from the comfort of your bed, and still receive your item on the same day. The transition can happen in the opposite direction too. In-store employees can’t be everywhere at once, particularly at busy times. By placing tablets in their stores, omnichannel retailers allow customers to look-up the information they need for themselves. Some of the best implementations allow customers to see what’s in stock and complete the entire transaction at the kiosk.

3+ Channels Increases Order Rate by 494%

Marketing campaigns that exist on multiple platforms with a synergetic omnichannel approach are significantly more effective than single-channel campaigns. Omnisend reports a 494% higher order rate (0.83% vs 0.14%) for marketing campaigns that use at least three channels, as compared to those launched on just one channel.

A Sale that Starts Online, Ends In-Store

While our customers shop on multiple channels, many of us still divide our marketing strategies as if we’re targeting distinct groups of people with nothing in common. We target the customers who shop in-store, then think of the customers who shop on our website, and the customers who shop on their mobile. If you don’t rely exclusively on one of these channels for your own shopping, why act as if your customers do?

With a well-thought-out omnichannel strategy for commerce, your business gains a huge competitive advantage. The hidden advantage is that a customer who gets halfway through the sales funnel on one channel can be converted on another. For example, imagine a customer comes to your sales counter to buy a jacket. Your store employee scans the customer’s loyalty card and discovers that, one week ago, they browsed the website and placed scarves in their cart, but they didn’t go through the online checkout. Now they know the ideal accessory to upsell. These are the sorts of processes that can be created with a sales automation platform.

Omnichannel Is about Connecting Data

As we’ve seen, omnichannel commerce isn’t simply having consistent branding across all your platforms. It’s about connecting data so a transaction can start on one platform and finish on another. In fact, what we really mean is that the customer journey can start in one place and continue indefinitely on multiple channels. After all, if you’re maximizing your customer relationship, it shouldn’t end when the first sale is made.

The need to connect data and processes explains why omnichannel is a challenge for many European businesses. So how do you implement an omnichannel strategy without enormous effort? The basis for a successful omnichannel commerce strategy is a central data platform that comprises all information and processes. Every employee, whether they’re in marketing, customer service, in-store, or at head office, needs access to the same customer database. The profiles in this database need to be updated in real-time and accessible on any device.

Why a CRM Can’t Do This

Creating customer profiles that everyone can access might sound like the perfect task for customer relationship management software. This is the limitation of these platforms, they’re designed to store and update information about your customers. But alone, they can’t tell you why a customer abandoned their cart, or which offer to promote. Therefore, omnichannel retailers are using customer experience software instead of a CRM system or standalone sales software. Customer experience, or CX, refers to every interaction that a customer has with your brand. While marketing software is designed to optimize campaigns and sales software to maximize conversions, CX software helps companies optimize customer experiences.

A customer experience platform allows you to create and manage customer profiles, like a CRM platform, but it’s designed to integrate this data with all parts of your business. For example, instead of containing only contact information, each customer profile can include everything you’re able to record about a customer. This might include their purchase history, online store browsing behavior, customer support tickets, social media engagement, billing, how many email newsletters they opened, offers they took advantage of, or responses to your last customer survey. With purchase history matched to each customer, your marketing team knows which discount offers to email, and with survey responses available in-store instead of just head office, your store staff know your customer’s pain points.

In these ways, a customer experience platform allows your departments to collaborate and share insights more easily, which is the most secure way of increasing revenue over the long-term. Learn everything you need about SAP Customer Experience Suite.

SAP Customer Experience Suite